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Carrie Higbie's 2004 industry predictions

What does our emerging expert think 2004 will bring? Find out here...

We asked our site experts to give us their industry predictions for the New Year. Here's what our emerging technologies expert Carrie Higbie had to say:

In 2004, I think that...

  • Companies are going to be concentrating efforts in the security arena and may start straying from the larger suppliers with the bigger targets on their backs. Sometimes it is better to fly under the radar, so to speak.

  • Wireless security has certainly matured, but I think there will be more work needed to combat problems in the unlicensed spectrum. I also think that there will be a strong move to outsource security because it is becoming such a specialized field that it is stretching the skill sets of IT administrators that are already slightly /completely overworked. The liability associated with overall security concerns is not a pill that corporate America wants to swallow. Operating systems with STRONG logging and audit abilities will continue to grow, as will the companies that provide these services or software on an add-on basis.

  • With more PC's being shipped with gigabit network cards, I think that the next evolution will be for laptops to ship with both wired and unwired connections and switches will start being replaced with gigabit ports in increasing numbers. 10G copper is due to be ratified in January for 15m data center markets, with the twisted pair version in a couple of years, although I think that 10G copper ports will begin shipping sooner (see the Power over Ethernet standard which accommodates different pairs for power due to equipment shipping prior to standard ratification). 10G fiber ports will also continue an increase in sales (which in the long run equates to a decrease in price). The need for speed is definitely increasing both within the network and within the enterprise.

  • Downtime costs far more than it did years ago, and the concentration of IT spending will be in hardware and tools to avoid not only downtime, but costly slowness as well. This will definitely become the year for speed. With some industries being legislated to have live redundancy and others just wanting it, data centers will be the key focus for spending.

  • Spam headaches are about to be relieved through new legislation, although enforcement will be tricky at best. I expect to see new organizations similar to "Homeland Security" developing to handle hackers, viruses and spam attacks, particularly now that there is a bounty on the heads of those who remain destructive. Privacy considerations will cause several fights on this issue - it will be interesting to see how they balance first amendment rights, the right to privacy and a user's and company's right to be left alone and protect their assets from junk and attacks. Additional inroads will be made to catch identity thieves as well.

  • The last mile will see an insurgence of video on demand, data and voice triple-play services as the baby Bells fight for revenue share. As more central offices implement Ethernet services, rates are going to become more competitive and new software to analyze and bill traffic based on type of packet will see a whole new market. More homes will become wireless networks while parents scramble to know what their children are doing on the Internet. A cool product to come out of this technology would be a wireless access point with full audit capabilities that parents can utilize (or companies for that matter) to determine where people are going and what they are doing. This would be particularly useful in educational environments. I think that wireless in business will remain a niche market for travelers, etc. as it cannot compete with gigabit speeds, again, affecting overall productivity.

  • With the plethora of information on the market and the barrage of data floating around, I think that the larger tradeshows will see a decrease in attendance while the more specialized shows will see an increase. IT professionals are far more conscious of their time and need to "cut to the chase." Informative sessions geared towards specific interests are going to become a highly effective educational tool for the IT professional. It is easier to justify a half-day training on what you need than three days to look at a bunch of stuff you will never use.

Finally, I can predict with a high level of certainty, that next year, like this one, will go by way too quickly leaving us all to scratch our heads and ask, "Where the heck did this year go?"


Carrie Higbie, Global Network Applications Market Manager, The Siemon Company
Carrie Higbie has been involved in the computing and networking industries for nearly 20 years. She has been involved in sales, executive management, and consulting on a wide variety of platforms and topologies. She has held Director and VP positions with fortune 500 companies and consulting firms. Carrie has taught classes for Novell, Microsoft, and Cisco certifications as well as CAD/CAE, networking and programming on a collegiate level.

There's always something new in networking. Carrie can help explain developing technologies and what they mean to your network. Ask Carrie a question or browse her previously addressed Q&As in her Ask-the-Expert section.

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